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Hunting causes for buzz & hum on guitars in church venue

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  • Hunting causes for buzz & hum on guitars in church venue

    Hi!

    I'm a guitarist searching for causes for buzz & hum in a large church venue.

    Our soundman blames the guitars, bass and the equipment we use...all THREE of us.

    FACTS:
    1. Pro level equipment. (VHT & Mesa amps)
    2. Pro level guitars (Yes...single coils are completely unusable in this venue, and Humbuckers still hum like mad. Barden pickups even hum in this place.
    3. Power conditioners and Hum-X inserts are on all guitar amps & pedal boards. Decimator hum (gate) pedals REALLY suck as gates, but we use them when we can.
    4. This problem includes the bass player with active 5-string Fender & Brubaker basses & SWR Pro rig.

    MORE FACTS (as viewed by know-nothing guitar player):
    1. Venue uses MANY wireless microphones.
    2. I've used an inexpensive hardware store electric outlet checker and the power is wired correctly it appears.
    3. I think the noise is radio or rf generated. Shielding helps to a degree. Noise is worse when guitarists turn in certain directions. A metal cymbal held in front of a guitar player's guitar starts to cut down on the noise.
    4. Venue has florescent lighting. (We've turned them off...hum continues)
    5. Venue has banks of dimmer equipped banks of lights...100-watt incandesent floods. (We've started eliminating banks, but this doesn't appear the answer so far)
    6. Venue has some larger shuttered par cans on dimmers (We've started eliminating banks, but this doesn't appear the answer either)
    7. I believe all the guitars and amps are on the same electrical circuit. (I'll try running a long power line to another VERY remote power outlet next week)

    Any ideas?

    (This might sound silly, but the sound man just tells everyone in the band to go buy better guitars. Better than PRS, Brubaker and Gibson?!?)

    Please help before we're all stuck using EMG pickups on our guitars!
    Originally Posted by GIR unit:
    "Yet another thoughtful, temperate and informed response from the always delightful and informed Sonar."

  • #2
    Back away from the edge man, do NOT buy EMG's! It should be easy enough to figure out at least whether it's your fault or not. With the sound and lighting systems turned off, do your amps buzz? Turn them up. If they're not buzzing, then it's not you.

    Does the system buzz without your amps turned on? If yes, then it's something in the wiring of the system or the church itself. If the lighting is on the same circuit as sound, or even on the same leg of power on the service, then that's a likely culprit. It sounds like your sound guy needs some professional help, someone with troubleshooting skills, to figure thing out.

    Comment


    • #3
      I dont think it is your guitar / amps causing this.its an earth problem in the building i think. Set your guitar up in another place at home even to see if its quiet then. I must confess i have a slight problem in my house but not in others so its a trial sort of thing.
      www.paradoxband.co.uk

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      • #4
        Do you have a hearing-impaired system installed in the Church? The antenna loop (is that an induction loop, electrical guys?) for our hearing-impaired system was the culprit when we had the same problem. We haven't found any solution other than to turn that system off when the band plays...it runs 70-30 in favor of not being able to hear the band among our hearing-impaired members

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        • #5
          My amp...and all the others...are kept in top form. Quiet in any other venue and home.

          The sound system doesn't buzz by itself.

          It's strictly when the guitars are turned up (they're miked with Sennheiser 906 mikes, except bass which is a direct line). I mean, if I use a volume pedal, I can lose almost all of the noise by simply cutting off the feed from the guitar itself (pre pedals or amp).

          So, the guitar and bass pickups are channeling this interference.

          I'm thinking RF or EM in nature. Something in that room is driving us crazy. I'm going hunting for the main fuse panel next practice!

          Soundman is new and just starting to ask. Old soundman was fired for not caring about much of anything...so our problems were bottom of the list of how bad the last soundman was.
          Originally Posted by GIR unit:
          "Yet another thoughtful, temperate and informed response from the always delightful and informed Sonar."

          Comment


          • #6
            Guitar pickups make great antennas ... don't they?

            Unplug the guitars from the amps, if the noise problem goes away or is greatly reduced then the problem is the guitar itself (which is my first guess). If it remains unchanged then you won't have to worry about pickups.
            Don Boomer

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            • #7
              I dont think it is your guitar / amps causing this.its an earth problem in the building i think. Set your guitar up in another place at home even to see if its quiet then. I must confess i have a slight problem in my house but not in others so its a trial sort of thing.


              BINGO!!!....

              Or perhaps a very contaminated Neutral.

              A) Are the amps/Signal Chain quiet (normal) when the volume on the Guitars is turned down?

              B) IF A=Yes, then there are large fields present. Are there CRT computer monitors/Glass Video Monitors close by (plugged into same circuit)? If So Turn them off. Problem gone?

              C)If B=No, then Look for Dimmers. *IF* they are not transformered (These are large, and really obvious...) set them at Full Up. Also look for the Light Mixing Board. Turn all those either off or Full up. what happens then?

              You can also try to buy/rent (I suggest renting for testing) a Balanced Power unit, see what happens. Sometimes that can clean things up.

              Todd A.
              My Rig:

              EAW LA325's (2)
              EAW LA400's (4)
              QSC PLX 3402 (2)
              QSC PL1.8
              QSC RMX 2450
              Ashly ProTea 3.24c
              Ashly ProTea 4.24G
              EAW LA212 Monitors
              JBL PRX-512M Monitors
              Whole Lotta Cables

              Comment


              • #8
                Do you have a hearing-impaired system installed in the Church? The antenna loop (is that an induction loop, electrical guys?) for our hearing-impaired system was the culprit when we had the same problem. We haven't found any solution other than to turn that system off when the band plays...it runs 70-30 in favor of not being able to hear the band among our hearing-impaired members


                +1 this is a killer for me. If I forget the induction loop's on, and step on a distortion pedal, or pull my coil tap while on a higher-gain sound, it squeals like a banshee, irrespective of volume.
                Voyager Project - Fallen Angel - The Timber Merchants

                Comment


                • #9
                  Plug each guitar into a battery powered amp. I really like the Roland Mobile Cube. It's great for practice, and has guitar effects. If no hum, you know it's not the guitars.

                  The humbuckers really should be rejecting all the interference, at least below the hearable range. If the guitars are clean this way, then there's something wrong the amps or the A/C power, so that gives you two possibilities to examine. If the guitars still have hum, it could be the shielding and grounding of the passive electronics. The volume and tone pots can also act as antennas. That can be fixed by upgrading to active electronics and shielding/grounding everything. You can also lift the ground on the pickup coils, grounding only the hardware, and running shielded and balanced wire to the active electronics, then adding a low impedance balanced out from the guitar. The guitars should be ultra clean after that. The next trick is to keep a clean, balanced, shielded signal path all the way to the speakers.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    There are things to try. For the bass unplug the d/i and check it. You may need one with a ground lift, have to lift the amp chassis, or even have to mic the bass to get rid of it's buzz if it is ac ground related. If it is RF and he has humbucking pickups then he may need better sheilding in the bass itself.

                    For the guitars if it is ac noise you try turning everything off until it is gone and then start back to see which causes the noise. Typically dimmers are the big culprit but fans and motors, refrigerators, water coolers, etc. can all throw hash back up the ac line. If that is the problem you will need ac filtering of some degree. This may need to be better grounding, isolated circuits, separate transformer, etc..

                    You need to check things like cables as even good cables are not always what they should be. I just got a planet waves that hums terribly. Also if you have effects and are using wall warts they can induce noise especially if near coils of guitar cable.

                    If it is rf then again it can be from the lights or motors, wireless, radio stations, tv, etc. that is getting into your signal chain. If it varies as you turn then it is likely airborne noise. If it is constant noise then likely ac power. You may also need more sheilding in your pickup wiring and guitar cavity. Look around for flourescent lights that are flickering. If they are old style and have bad starters that can cause problems.

                    I just cured one churches noise that they could not seem to get rid of by lifting one power amp ground. It was dimmer induced ac noise but breaking the ground loop to the mixer is all it needed.

                    Also If you have a snake setup and are not using balanced cables, etc. they could help a lot. Some stuff may be using 1/4" unbalanced cables, when in fact they could be using TRS to balance them. Phantom power may also be an issue so you might try it off or switch things to different banks if you have that capability.

                    You just need to be a good detective and find it. Things interact so you start out and add things until the problem rears it's head.

                    Or you get someone else to solve the problem for you.

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